"knowing, wise," 1630s, from a Scottish and northern English formation from can (v.1) in its sense of "know how to," + -y (2). A doublet of cunning that flowered into distinct senses in Scottish English. In the glossary to Scott's "Heart of Mid-Lothian" (1818) uncanny is defined as "dangerous," while canny, as used in the tale, is defined as "skilful, prudent, lucky ; in a superstitious sense, good-conditioned, and safe to deal with ; trustworthy ; quiet." Cannily is "gently" and canny moment is "an opportune or happy time."
"Knowing," hence, from 18c., "careful, skillful, clever," also "frugal, thrifty," and, from early 19c. (perhaps via Scott's novels) "cautious, wary, shrewd." Often used superciliously of Scots by their southern neighbors (and their American cousins).
The Canny Scot is so well known as scarcely to require description. He carries caution, cunning, and selfishness to excess. Deceitful when a purpose is to be accomplished, he is not habitually deceitful. One thing he never loses sight of—his own interest. But of his own interest he is not the most enlightened judge. ["The Natural History of Scotsmen," in The Argosy, December 1865]
Related: Cannily; canniness.
"light boat propelled by hand-held paddle or paddles," 1550s, originally in a West Indian context, from Spanish canoa, a word used by Columbus, from Arawakan (Haiti) canaoua. Extended to rough-made or dugout boats generally. Early variants in English included cano, canow, canoa, etc., before spelling settled down 18c. To paddle one's (own) canoe "do for oneself make one's way by one's own exertions," is from 1828, American English.
THEY have a very expressive term at the West, in speaking of a man who would be the architect of his own fortune, that he must paddle his own canoe. [Harper's New Monthly Magazine, May 1854]
"a rule or law," Old English canon "rule, law, or decree of the Church," from Old French canon or directly from Late Latin canon "Church law, a rule or doctrine enacted by ecclesiastical authority," in classical Latin, "measuring line, rule," from Greek kanon "any straight rod or bar; rule; standard of excellence," perhaps from kanna "reed" (see cane (n.)).
The Latin word was taken in ecclesiastical use for "decree of the Church." General sense of "a rule or principle" is from late 14c.; that of "standard of judging" is from c. 1600. From c. 1400 as "the Scriptures, the books of the Bible accepted by the Christian church," also extended to secular books of admitted excellence or supremacy. Meaning "catalogue of acknowledged saints" is from 1727. Musical sense "a kind of fugal composition" is from 1590s. Related: Canonicity.
The secular canon, with the word meaning a catalog of approved authors, does not actually begin until the middle of the eighteenth century .... [Harold Bloom, "The Western Canon," 1994].